Exploring Art-Rich Islands in the Seto Inland Sea

Exploring Art-Rich Islands in the Seto Inland Sea


The Setouchi Islands (瀬戸内) form an enchanting archipelago nestled within the picturesque Shikoku region (四国). Spanning across the prefectures of Osaka, Wakayama, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Tokushima, Ehime, and Fukuoka, this vast expanse of isles graces the west coast of Japan with its scenic allure.

In this feature, we delve into three islands brimming with art in the Seto Inland Sea. A pilgrimage for art enthusiasts and museum aficionados alike, these islands offer an immersive experience unlike any other. Moreover, the Setouchi Triennale will be held in 2025. Its mission is to revitalize island communities that once thrived within the spectacular setting of the Seto Inland Sea, a nexus of trade and cultural exchange, and transform this region into a Sea of Hope for the world.

Setouchi Triennale 2025: https://setouchi-artfest.jp/

Traveling to Various Islands


The primary mode of transportation to reach the islands in this region is by boat, offering a travel experience unlike the train journeys typical in other cities. There are two main options: Departing from Okayama Prefecture or Kagawa Prefecture.

Both have ports from which numerous boat excursions embark to explore the diverse islands dotting the area. For detailed information, you can refer to the available schedules and itineraries on the following websites.





Naoshima Island (直島) stands as the crown jewel of this art-infused archipelago, renowned for its iconic polka-dot pumpkin artwork by the legendary Yayoi Kusama. Beyond this celebrated masterpiece, the island unfolds as a canvas of contemporary art, with exhibitions dotted across its picturesque landscape. Numerous art museums dot the island, making it a haven for art enthusiasts.


Art seamlessly intertwines with nature here, creating a harmonious blend that captivates visitors. One such example is The Glass Tea House Mondrian (硝子の茶室 聞鳥庵) set in the middle of a pond within the Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery. This gallery showcases the diverse works of Hiroshi Sugimoto, encompassing photographs, sculptures, and paintings. It's these artistic treasures that draw people from far and wide to experience the enchantment of Naoshima.

Naoshima has many other spots and you can find more information in our feature.


The museum's souvenir shops offer a range of products, such as this postcard featuring the iconic polka dot pumpkin. When stepping foot on the island, it's essential not to overlook the chance to acquire these exclusive art souvenirs, each a tangible reminder of the delightful experiences found only on Naoshima.



Shodoshima Island (小豆島) stands out as a gem among the Setouchi Islands, captivating art enthusiasts with its tranquil ambiance and rich culture. Despite being the 19th largest island in Japan, Shodoshima exudes a serene charm, home to a mere 28,000 inhabitants and offering a respite from bustling crowds. Steeped in history, the island boasts an array of intriguing art installations scattered across its landscape.


Notably, Shodoshima holds the distinction of being Japan's foremost olive-growing region, earning it the affectionate moniker "Olive Island." At the heart of its historical legacy lies the Olive Garden, a venerable landmark steeped in a century-old tradition of olive cultivation. Additionally, the park holds significance as the filming location for Studio Ghibli's beloved work, Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyuubin).


Every corner of Shodoshima exudes artistic flair. Visitors can immerse themselves in capturing enchanting moments amidst abandoned houses, picturesque landscapes, and the island's emblematic piece, Regent in Olives (オリーブのリーゼント). This endearing creation by Hisakazu Shimizu, known as No. sd25, has graced Shodoshima since 2013, nestled amid the olive groves.

For those interested in visiting Shodoshima, make sure to read this feature.



Teshima may be small in size, but its reputation looms large thanks to the illustrious Teshima Art Museum, a beacon for art enthusiasts worldwide. Few museums can boast of seamlessly blending architectural marvels with the pristine beauty of nature on such a grand scale. Visitors often rent bicycles to traverse the island's picturesque trails in search of artistic treasures. Like its sister islands, Teshima offers a canvas dotted with enchanting artworks.


At the heart of Teshima's allure stands the Teshima Art Museum, an architectural marvel set amid nature. Its expansive circular structure, bereft of pillars, seamlessly integrates with the surrounding landscape, featuring a central void that offers glimpses of the forest canopy, sky, and water droplets on the ground.

While photography is prohibited within the museum's confines, the adjacent café offers a tantalizing glimpse into the ambiance that pervades the island.

Make sure to reserve tickets on the official website: https://benesse-artsite.jp/art/teshima-artmuseum.html


Scattered across Teshima, artworks like No one wins – Multibasket (勝者はいない─マルチ・バスケットボール) beckon visitors to engage with their thought-provoking themes. This innovative basketball court, adorned with multiple hoops, invites participants to challenge traditional notions of competition while embracing the island's artistic ethos.

Teshima's compact size makes it ideal for leisurely exploration by bicycle. Read more about Teshima here.

Culinary Experiences


Culinary delights are central to the Setouchi Islands but particularly well-known is Kagawa's famed udon. Celebrated as the prefecture's signature dish, these udon noodles are known for their soft yet chewy texture and subtly rich flavor, winning over both local and international palates.

Recently, visitors to Kagawa might be surprised by the ubiquitous presence of a peculiar pink Pokémon, Yadon (Slowpoke). From souvenir shops to food packaging and even postal boxes, Yadon's whimsical image is everywhere, sparking curiosity about its connection to Kagawa Prefecture.

Learn more about Yadon here.


One experience you simply can't miss when visiting these islands is indulging in fresh seafood, particularly raw fish. While the presentation might not rival the ornate displays found in restaurants elsewhere, the taste is unparalleled. Setouchi's seafood offerings are sure to leave a lasting impression.

For art aficionados, a journey through Kagawa and Okayama prefectures would be incomplete without a visit to the three art islands. Each island offers a unique blend of artistic expression set against the backdrop of breathtaking natural landscapes. From the iconic polka-dot pumpkin on Naoshima to the architectural wonder of the Teshima Art Museum and the tranquil charm of Shodoshima, these islands promise a wonderful experience.

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